By Tom Campbell via SWNS
Taekwondo could boost kids' grades and mental health, according to a new study from the UK.
Students who took classes in the Korean martial art twice a week showed greater levels of self-control than those who did physical education (PE).
Self-regulation, a person's ability to manage their emotions and behavior, has been shown to improve academic performance and mental health among children.
But whether certain sporting activities can help kids develop greater self-regulation in school has not been clear.
Now scientists have found Taekwondo could help kids to take control of their feelings.
Author Dr. Terry Ng-Knight at the University of Surrey said: "A large body of research suggests that there are substantial personal and public benefits to improving children’s self-control, however, research is less clear on how to achieve this in practical terms."
Taekwondo teaches people a number of punching and kicking techniques, with an emphasis on speed and agility, it also promotes a strong mindset.
A trial involving 240 school students aged seven to 11 years0old was carried out by the researchers.
Children from across four-year groups were randomly selected to have two 45-minute Taekwondo classes every week for 11-weeks while the others did PE.
Data was also collected a week before the experiment started and after it finished using questionnaires.
These asked what children thought about the martial arts lessons and how much importance they placed on having good self-control.
Teachers were also asked to complete a questionnaire to assess the kids' behavior in school.
They were then set a number of computer tasks to evaluate mental abilities, known as executive functions, which govern their ability of self-control.
Those who attended Taekwondo classes performed better and received higher ratings from teachers compared to those who did PE, the researchers found.
Taekwondo courses were generally well-received by pupils and led to more importance being placed on self-control.
They also improved their ability to self-regulate and reduced symptoms of conduct disorders.
Emotional disorders especially have become increasingly common among children and adolescents.
It is estimated that serious emotional disturbance affects 9 to 13 percent of children and adolescents in the United States.
Offering martial arts in school could therefore help these children overcome these mental challenges.
Dr. Ng-Knight said: "Our findings suggest that including traditional martial arts in schools could both teach children the value of self-control and increase their use of self-regulation.
"Traditional martial arts are popular extra-curricular activities for many children, however, their use in schools appears to be quite limited at present.”
The findings were published in the journal Developmental Psychology.
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